Antidepressant medication has actually been in circulation on the pharmaceutical market since the 1950s. Doctors prescribe antidepressants to not only treat depression, but other conditions such as anxiety attacks, PTSD, OCD and even eating disorders.
Unfortunately, antidepressant medication can be habit-forming, carrying a moderate risk of addiction. Long-term users can develop a dependence on the substance and the effects it delivers.
At Elevate Addiction Services, we help those trying to break an addiction to antidepressants by offering at least 90 days of expert inpatient treatment, including a personalized amount of time for detoxification. We don’t use any mind- or mood-altering substances to aid the recovery process.
Instead, for those who suffer from antidepressant addiction, we help them manage their symptoms of depression through holistic techniques such as yoga, meditation, art and music therapy, aromatherapy and physical fitness. We want each client to come out of our inpatient program without a reliance on any type of risky or addictive medication, as well as a renewed sense of ambition and fulfillment.
Common Types of Antidepressant Medications
The most common type of antidepressants is more formally known as SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Those who suffer from depression often are having issues with signals being sent back and forth between brain cells. SSRIs allow more serotonin to be released in the brain so the messages between the brain cells can be sent correctly. In total, SSRIs try to regulate the user’s emotions.
When it comes to different types of antidepressants, some names you might recognize are:
- Prozac (fluoxetine)
- Zoloft (sertraline)
- Paxil (paroxetine)
- Lexapro (escitalopram)
- Celexa (citalopram)
- Wellbutrin (bupropion)
Please note that Wellbutrin is actually a norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitor (NDRI) that has antidepressant properties. Unlike other antidepressant medication, Wellbutrin is also prescribed for smoking cessation. Also, it’s less likely to cause weight gain or sexual dysfunction, which are risks associated with SSRIs.
However, Wellbutrin along with SSRIs have a moderate to high risk for abuse, so these medications should be only be taken as prescribed or avoided altogether. At Elevate, our stance is that medications such as these should be avoided unless medically necessary, and even then, it should be for a short, definite amount of time.
Antidepressant Abuse Statistics
Antidepressants can be abused by either taking more than the prescribed dose at one time or, in some instances, by breaking open the capsule and inhaling the substance. In either scenario, the user is chasing some type of high from the drug.
This type of medication can also be abused when somebody’s prescription has ended and they turn to the black market for more of the substance. With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few statistics and facts that show the state of antidepressant abuse in the U.S.:
- In the most recent national report for drug-related emergency department visits, the combination of antidepressants and alcohol sent nearly 34,000 people to the hospital in 2011, according to SAMHSA.
- Overall, just under 89,000 emergency department visits in the U.S. were attributed to the nonmedical use of antidepressants in 2011. Nearly 45,000 of these visits were reported as an antidepressant-related suicide attempt.
- According to a study published in 2015 in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 69 percent of people who regularly take an SSRI have never suffered from major depressive disorder (MDD).
- The CDC says that 11 percent of Americans aged 12 years and older regularly take an antidepressant. Also worth noting is antidepressant use in the U.S. shot up 400 percent between 1988 and 2008.
- The most common user of an antidepressant is a non-Hispanic white person between the ages of 40 and 59 years old, according to the CDC. Women are more likely than men to take an antidepressant at every level of depression severity.
What Is Antidepressant Withdrawal Like?
Although antidepressants aren’t commonly associated with addiction, long-term users will feel withdrawal symptoms if they suddenly cease using the substance. The following symptoms have been reported in antidepressant withdrawal cases:
- Cardiac arrhythmia
- Confused or labored thinking
- Memory issues
- Panic attacks
- Problems controlling urination
- Sexual dysfunction
- Suicidal thoughts
- Vivid dreaming
For some users, withdrawal symptoms may not emerge until a couple of weeks after last using the substance. Although some former antidepressant users feel withdrawal symptoms for several months, the withdrawal process usually lasts a maximum of three weeks.
How We Treat Addiction to Antidepressants at Elevate
Elevate Addiction Services helps people rebuild their lives by offering a holistic approach to recovery from antidepressant addiction. We don’t simply exchange one substance for another in order to break someone’s addiction to antidepressants. Our goal is to have them come out of our 90+ day program completely substance-free and with a new outlook on their lives.
We start out by offering closely supervised detox from antidepressants to help stabilize the individual and help him or her get accustomed to not having to take an antidepressant for physical, mental or emotional symptoms. After detox, our focus is on helping the individual heal physically and emotionally from the ravages of addiction.
Holistic therapies such as mindfulness, yoga, massage, aromatherapy with essential oils, and art therapy will be used during this time. There’s also a major emphasis on physical fitness and proper nutrition, as guided by experts in each field.
Support Well Beyond the Inpatient Phase of Treatment
Once the individual appears to be ready to return to life outside of our program, we hold a graduation for them and set them up with a customized aftercare plan to keep their recovery going strongly. The aftercare phase of treatment includes ongoing one-on-one counseling with an Elevate professional, as well as support group referrals, vocational training and much more to help the graduate avoid relapse.
We even offer a Graduate Assurance Plan, which means that if any client has graduated our program and relapsed within six months, he or she can return to our facility for up to 30 days of treatment at no additional cost. We are committed to helping each client find success in their ongoing recovery.
Two Optimal Locations in Northern California
Elevate’s inpatient antidepressant addiction rehab program is open to anybody in state and anywhere else in the U.S. We have beautiful, expansive facilities in both Santa Cruz County and South Lake Tahoe, California. Not sure which location is the right place to start your recovery? Call our friendly admissions counselors anytime and have them assess your situation and discuss your options.